College major choices turning more interest-driven among Chinese youth

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 6, 2020
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High school graduates across China have made up their minds during this year's college admissions season and their choices of major have once again become a much-discussed topic on social media.

Zhong Fangrong, a high school graduate in central China's Hunan Province, applied to Peking University and chose archaeology as her major after she scored 676 out of 750 in the national college entrance examination, also known as the gaokao.

Opinions online are split over the young village girl's choice. Some expressed admiration and support for her, while some commented that it was a pity that she wasted the high score choosing an "unpopular" major.

Zhong was not alone in choosing a college major based on personal interest and aspiration rather than the promise of a lucrative career in the future.

This year, a total of 10.71 million Chinese students took the gaokao, which was delayed by one month to early July due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Colleges across the country offered admission policy consultation services online for college candidates and their parents following the release of scores.

Inquiries by students at the enrollment and employment department at the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics have shown that high schoolers are keeping up with current events and are likely to make far-sighted decisions in terms of their college major choice, said Xu Song, head of the department.

According to a 2019 survey by Beijing Normal University, a number of college majors that used to be unpopular, such as history, museology, Chinese language and literature and psychology, have in recent years become the most popular majors among high school graduates born in the 2000s.

"Growing up in an era of information explosion, students of this generation are more independent and willing to try new things as they have greater access to various information. They place greater emphasis on their personal interests and self-realization when deciding on a major," said Yue Long, professor of education at Shanghai Normal University.

"I love sports and I have been watching all kinds of sporting events. I'm considering becoming a journalist or a self-media operator," said Sun Jiayue, a college candidate in Beijing, who decided almost three years ago to study sports journalism at college.

For candidate Han Guangqi, pursuing nursing is the right choice as she believes nurses are in high demand in society. "This year is very special," she said. "The epidemic made me realize how important medicine is."

In a bid to boost the dynamic development of academic disciplines at colleges, the Ministry of Education has rolled out policies to support emerging disciplines and curb the excessive expansion of once-popular majors with falling job prospects.

Colleges have been encouraged to set up new disciplines such as emergency management and elderly care management, and develop majors including preventive medicine and traditional Chinese medicine rehabilitation.

The ministry also advocated in a document on undergraduate education released in October 2019 that colleges give students greater autonomy in learning and increase minor subject offerings to cultivate interdisciplinary experts. 

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